First off all, Allah bless you Kareem; you know all of the Lakers Nation are pulling for you.

So here we are nine games into the season and let’s face it: the games have been a little closer than we would probably like.

They’ve also included two absolutely abysmal games. (The Dallas Debacle and The Denver Turd Omelette).

Of course the blow outs of New Orleans and Phoenix — sans Pau and Drew for the Hornets game, and still without Pau for the Phoenix game — was a refreshing reminder of how good we really are when we’re as focused as we should be.

And even though — unless we go on some mind boggling win streak — we probably won’t be winning 72 games, we know the ultimate goal is the ring, and we have to play somebody in June right?

The only question is who…

Boston Celtics

The Lakers Nation’s enemy number one. Damn do I, and I’m sure all of you, hate this team so much. Hatred aside however, and it’s easy to see that their ’08 Finals swag’ has returned. They’ve been blowing out the teams they should be, and have yet to play a complete stinker like The Lake Show did against The Double D’s. Their only negatives are the seven point loss to Phoenix and their home loss to the ATL.

Looking closer however, and there’s a couple of red flags that pop up, especially with the Big Three.

Pee Pee, Jesus Shuttlesworth, and The Cheap Seat Ticket’s minutes, and PPG, are all down from years past. And along with PPG, their FG% has also dropped. (Pierce is shooting above 50% right now, but you know this won’t last). True Rasheed Wallace, is contributing around 10 PPG, but his numbers are considerably lower than they’ve been in previous years.

Garnett has to be the biggest worry for Boston though. Against the ATL he played 33 minutes, and only logged nine rebounds! (Al Horford pulled down 13). Here’s a guy who’s a career 11 RPG guy, and right now he’s averaging 7.5. Yes, he’s probably still more athletic than most of the 7′ guys in the league, but that injury — a torn popliteus tendon — has clearly taken its impact on him.

So yes, the C’s look good right now, but with their Mötley Crüe of aging veterans how much will they have come June?

Cleveland LeBrick James-es

So the other day I was watching game seven of the 2000 Western Conference Finals, and man did Shaq look slim, spry, and damn athletic (even though he was sort of a no show in that game until about the fourth quarter). Look at Shaq now, and he just looks fat, slow, and stiff. I know The LeBrons wanted a post presence — and they got one — but is it a good one?

Cleveland hasn’t quite figured out how to play with The Big Roadblock, and this may take a long time, if ever. At that point will they still be in contention for the NBA’s best record, or even first place in the East?

I’d be worried if I’m a Cleveland fan. Worried because our team has legitimate problems, worried because Mike Brown still doesn’t run an offense, and really worried that LeBrick is probably going to shake after this season (and stupidly petition to what would basically deify Michael Jordan, with that whole retire 23 idea).

Hey on the bright side if Prince James does leave Cleveland, the rest of us won’t have to see that obnoxious banner of him when we visit!

Orlando Magic (coached by famous pornographic actor Ron Jeremy)

To be perfectly honest, the only player the Magic have that really scares me is Jameer Nelson. We still can’t guard a quick PG, and if he gets it going against us then we may be in trouble, because I don’t know if the players we have can guard him (although I do like Shannon Brown’s chances. And how much does he look like Chris Brown’s athletic, buff, non-wife beating brother? I say a lot).

I know they have “The Man Child” Dwight Howard, but he still has all of one post move (you know that little face-up, jab step, then drive to the hoop running hook or lay up). In fact, offensively, Andrew is much more skilled than Howard. Dwight is like 3x more athletic than Bynum, but Big Drew has so many more moves. Kareem (still praying for you, sir) has taught him well, while Howard has been tutored by the great Patrick Chewing. And correct me if I’m wrong, but Ewing was not really known for his arsenal of deadly post moves. I just find it interesting that the game’s best player Kobe Bryant, went to work with one of the all time best post players in Hakeem this summer, while Dwight Howard continues to mull around with Chewing.

Yes, the Magic are good, but I’m just not that worried about them.

Besides we have that, “We beat you up in the Finals last year!” swag over them.

And To Conclude

We have to get to The Finals first and Phoenix looks good again. Yeah we spanked them, but they were on night two of a back to back, and as the Denver game proved: it’s not easy to keep the same energy and play on night two, especially when you have a cast of veterans.

I can’t deny that I’m a little worried about Denver though. They are tough and athletic, which we struggle against. They can shoot the three, which we don’t always defend the best. They now have a kid who might be the fastest PG in the league in Ty Lawson, and we ALL know that we can’t guard athletic PGs to save our lives.

Also, Carmelo took it to Ron-Ron in their first match up. I wrote earlier that the pundits were wrong about Artest, and that he looked rejuvenated. But in the Denver game, he looked a little slow, and a little old, (granted all the vets did including Kobe) and it showed in his five fouls he picked up in three quarters of play.

And you know what? Don’t count out the addition of Afflalo. The fact that Kobe didn’t score, in the second half of that game, doesn’t bother me (he didn’t play the 4th). What does bother me, is the fact that Afflalo did a great job of not letting Kobe, “do his work early.” He never let Kobe get inside the paint, and the Nuggets’ energy kept their scrambling double teams more than effective.

I’m don’t think we should get two worried though. We still don’t have Pau, and we all knew that it would be really really tough for us to match their energy, in their building, after a back to back. Let’s look forward to 2/5, when they come to L.A.!

At this point you’re probably expecting me to write about the Spurs, but let’s face it: they’re older than us, and we know that they don’t start REALLY playing until after the break.

Before we end, I would like to point out a couple of things. First, did anybody else know that Jeanie Buss, has a video segment (called Jeanie Vision) that can be watched, via Courside Connection on Lakers.com, where she interviews Phil — in their freaking car of all places — on the way to the games? Like seriously, how awesome is this? Pretty awesome because it gives us awkward exchanges like Jeanie asking:

“Phil, that was a tough loss to the Dallas Mavericks. You weren’t very happy when you came home, can you give a little bit about what your thoughts were that night?”

“Well,” Phil says very matter of factly (long long pause). I think (more pausing) that we just got lethargic and never got ourselves out of it, but…” and Phil continues with his analysis.

Why is this so great? Because it’s completely candid! Phil is so relaxed, so off guard, and so trusting of Jeanie, that he’s already sang and talked about his vegetable cart. Stay tuned to this Laker fans, it’s going to produce unintentional (yes a Bill Simmons reference) comedy gold!

Also, it’s rumored that Sasha Vujacic, is dating Maria Sharapova. Well I hope this is true. Maria’s a champion — she grunts like one too — and maybe she can help Vujacic get his swagger back, because he NEEDS something, and we need Sasha! If we win the title this year maybe we can give Khloe Odom and Maria Sharapova a ring. Lord knows that Lamar and Sasha need some guidance in their careers. So here’s a toast to Machina Sharapova, the Lakers newest couple (still not completely confirmed)!

  • lucid

    Good article. keep up the good work.

  • gugy

    The only damn good thing Sasha is doing lately is banging Maria. Lucky bastard! :-)
    Hopefully he will play better. I just get so frustrated watching him play.

  • http://LakersNation Marwan

    Do you guys think the way Bynum is playing, that this could be his prime right now? I dont know really whether its improvement and his prime is yet to come or his prime is now.

    • KB24ForLife

      it’s his fifth year in the league… he’s 21 or 22 years old, if he went to college and got drafted, this would be his rookie season, its definitely his improvement

    • http://LakersNation Marwan

      I know I speak for most of you when I say we should keep Bynum as the Franchise Centre. His improving alot and will continue to do so too.

      Thank you to Mitch Kupchak for drafting him and for not trading him. He sure is a smart GM.

  • Trem

    Yep, he sure is even though some people are ripping him apart saying we need to replace Fisher. Fucking stupid. Mitch knows what he is doing he just won a ring for christs sake

  • http://LakersNation Marwan

    I agree with Trem.

    Mitch Kupchak is smart and patient. You will see him at Lakers games analysing the Lakers to see whether to resign players or not and whether there are any players from the other team worth signing. This guy is a true genious.
    Gasol, Brown and Artest. Wow He deserves a Hall of Fame spot.

    Fisher deserves a spot in the Hall Of Fame too.

    This guy accomplished so much in his career and he is so humble too. He has alot of class. He is very clutch and to think we would not have won so many games without his clutch shots.

  • mr.laker19

    Fisher should still start but after that he should be played based off match ups. He should NEVER be out there wit Ty Lawson. Dat was just dumb. But I dont like this new post up Kobe. He has put up big numbers, and I like wat he does when he is in there but I still want to see him mix it up. I think we are at our best when he is controlling the ball on the perimeter personally. Kobe and our whole team but specifically dont look as hungry as last year. We didnt have games like this the whole last season, and now we have two stinkers within 10 games. We difinitely need our second best player Pau back fast!

  • http://LakersNation Marwan

    Actually we did have games like these on the road last season. Against Blazers we got blown out by 17. We gave up home losses to Hornets, Bobcats, Sixers, Magic and Pistons. And that was with Pau Gasol too.

    I think we are doing fine without him and with him, we will do even better. Besides, lets let the Nuggets game go, I think I took it too bad because they enjoyed seeing us like this. The refs were against us, it was 8 on 5.

    By the way, we started out better this season than we did last season. We are 7-2 and last season we were 5-2.

    • mr.laker19

      Yea but we lost those games by being outplayed, i think we came out in Denver and against Dallas with simply not bringing enough effort, I never saw that last year from the whole team, maybe one or two guys but not them all, and NEVER Kobe and he looks the worse at times

  • WatWudChickSay? (WWCS?)

    Its a llllooooooonnnnngggggg season, Laker buds.

    Denver shot their wad on Friday. With knuckleheads like K Mart, JR “Don’t Call Me JR” Smith, and Nene on their team, being coached by a truly mentally troubled guy, they won’t make it past either the Spurs or the Blazers.

    The Lakers are still getting RonRon into the mix and don’t have their other big man, Pau, yet, they are 7-2.

    At the worst, the Lakers will end up with a 2-seed in the playoffs.

  • Popcorn

    Lakers are OK; they are pacing themselves; Kobe is using the post because is a more efficient way to play for him and because the post play and Gasol’s efficiency is not there. Kobe will keep doing it and when Gasol get back he will mix it up, Artest is doing fine and he will get better; heck some players have a hard time understanding the triangle offense system and to me Artest is just fine. He’ll only get better.

    I’m not a coach but to me PJ needs to call the time outs and make some adjustments before they blow the team out of the games; he has his method of coaching and he has 10 rings to show; I just think as a fan I can’t see how he let stuff like that happen but man he surely likes to do that. I guess his philosophy is “I let you guys suffer out there and next time we play the same team I tell what to do and what not to do” Lol.

    In that last game he could have tried something different after seeing Kobe missing so many and after seeing Lawson beating Fisher on the drive why not feed the ball more to Bynum inside and put Farmar or Brown on Lawson. I would try to do that; that way Fisher will be resting for Billups . They had a lot of wide open shots that they were making in the first half and in the second half they had almost the same looks but they will either jump and try to pass to Bynum in the air or they will just try to pass the ball to AB with like three guys on him for easy steals. They had to be decisive either shoot while wide open or look to pass in side if there’s 1 guy guarding Bynum inside. The bench came in after a good game against the Suns but they were lost in the Nuggets game the referees were quick to call fouls against the bench and Artest. I never expect referees to give us any help at this point. It is ridiculous sometimes the simplest touch is a foul against us and on the other side we get grabbed, pushed, elbowed and the foul call is not there for us. I’m hoping that Sasha get to play this year the way he played back in 07-08 I don’t see why he can’t do it, Brown is a good energetic player that all he needs is a bit more of PT, Farmar needs to play like he did back in 07-08 too, Powell is getting better, DJ is DJ he will play good one game and not so good other games but at least he is not intimidated by anyone, Luke is Luke , and finally not to hate on Morrison but man he looks as if he is sick or something out there; if Mitch makes a trade for him to help the bench excellen!!!t. Lol I can only hope; his contract is about $5.25 M, hopefully someone wants that money off their pay roll a la Gasol’s trade. One can only dream Lol. All in all I think we are OK once Gasol is back 100% healthy Odom will make that bench a lot better and we will see the complete Lakers team.

    Let’s go Lakers take care of games at home for now and do your best on the road while Gasol gets well.

  • http://lakers-edge.com/ dEDGE

    The Denver game was the first time that the Lakers truly missed Pau Gasol in the line-up. And this was exemplified by the Bench Mob’s poor performance. They really need Lamar to help unify them and give them their offensive punch. But when LO is starting, this leaves the bench pretty thin. Phil’s been experimenting with Artest in this role, but LO gives them so many weapons to choose from.

    Denver played a spirited 3rd period and the refs let them pound on us pretty hard… Had this game been at Staples, 2-1 odds say Kenyon would’ve gotten T’ed-up instead of being awarded a jump ball. Regardless, we got our a**es thoroughly thumped, so it’ll be a nice payback game the next time they’re in town.

    Please STAND and APPLAUD for Trevor Ariza when he gets his championship ring tonight for his invaluable contributions last season. (Then you can boo him as soon as the game starts.)

  • lakerbunny